It’s 18 months since we initiated the challenge to the Government over its intention to bypass Parliament and use the ancient Royal Prerogative to trigger Article 50.
This was the start of a fight to ensure that it is Parliament that decides where the future of the UK lies and not a handful of people in Whitehall.
In less than a fortnight it will be the first anniversary of the UK’s Supreme Court upholding our challenge by saying that it was for Parliament to decide and the Government could not use Royal Prerogative to trigger Article 50.
At the same time as the Supreme Court did this we commissioned the “Three Knights Opinion”, the most authoritative opinion yet on the revocability of the Article 50 notification, which takes into account both UK and EU law.
The Three Knights’ assertion that Article 50 is unilaterally revocable is supported by the opinions of both Lord Kerr, one of the authors of Article 50, and Jean-Claude Piris, Legal Counsel to the EU Council, Director of its Legal Services from 1988 to 2010 and also Legal Advisor to the inter-governmental conference which negotiated the Treaty of Lisbon of which Article 50 is a part.
The question of the revocability of Article 50, the EU law element of it at least, is now to be tested in the courts. A group of Scottish parliamentarians have asked the Court of Session in Edinburgh to refer the question to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Obviously we, with our legal team, are keeping a close watch on this challenge, if we feel that we can contribute to the challenge, and by doing so improve the chances of the challenge being successful, we will apply to be a participant.
The other work that has occupied a great deal of our time, and money, over the past year has been working with other groups to inform people and politicians of the absolute necessity to ensure that decisions are made based on “What is Best for the UK” rather than some dogmatic philosophy of “Brexit is Brexit”.
From the very start of our campaign 18 months ago, a fundamental principle has been “What is in the best interest of the UK?”
That is why we have to ensure that Parliament makes these decisions: MPs and members of the House of Lords have a sworn duty to act in the national and public interest.
While the referendum result said, by a miniscule margin, that more UK citizens who voted preferred to leave the EU than to remain, the decisions about what happens next have not been made by the public or their representatives in Parliament.
Indeed, it seems as if not even the Cabinet has made these decisions.
What has happened is in-fighting within the Government, in-fighting which sadly seems to have more to do with personal political advancement than what is best for the UK.
This has produced an inconclusive and ill-defined position based on anodyne soundbites, as the Government seeks to take the UK out of the EU without Parliament ever making the decision on what is best for the future of the UK and its people.
But our Sovereign Parliament has demonstrated that this is not acceptable behaviour by the Government.
The unprecedented number of amendments tabled to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, which brought on the first Government defeat when the Dominic Grieve’s amendment 7 was passed, shows that Parliament is not prepared to see the Government annexe wide-ranging powers to take further action without Parliament’s approval (i.e. the passing of an Act of Parliament). And the debate over amendments isn’t finished yet!
MPs’ sworn duty is to act in the best interest of the UK, also taking account of the views of their constituents. Making them aware of the feeling in the country is vital. This is a major objective of the lobbying process.
Another key objective is to inform them of important facts they might be unaware of – given the amount of information not being divulged by the Government unless it’s compelled to, this latter role becomes even more important.
To this end, we have been working on how best to pursue the lobbying process. Working with experienced professionals, we have expanded what we do from lobbying UK parliamentarians to lobbying EU parliamentarians and other key decision-makers in both the UK and the rest of the EU.
As an example we have written to key decision-makers in the EU setting out how the deal on EU citizenship rights falls far short of protecting those EU citizens, including those from the UK, who have made life-changing decisions based on the UK’s membership of the EU.
This work is far less obvious and much less dramatic than beating the Government in court. However, it is no less important.
There were 494 amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill in the committee stage, all of which we had to read and understand so that we could decide where to apply our resources most effectively.
Whatever the outcome of the “Brexit” process, what is happening has an even greater significance for the future of UK democracy and Parliament’s sovereignty.
If the UK is to leave the EU it has to be because that is “What is Best for the UK” and not because some cabal in the Government has decided that leaving the EU is in their best interest.
At present, Parliament is being “allowed” a very grudgingly-given opportunity to debate and vote on some of the “mechanics” of the leaving process. But when the result of the negotiations is known, our MPs must have a meaningful vote as to whether that result will leave the UK in a better position than its current one.
So the work goes on. We continue to be vigilant about costs, but the making of omelettes inevitably involves the breaking of eggs! Aside from the usual overheads of running any campaign organisation we need specialist advice from our litigation team, plus advice from professionals on how best to influence what is happening in the UK and EU parliaments.
So we continue to rely on contributions from our supporters both new and existing. As always, thank you to those who have been sticking with us along the way, and to new supporters, thank you for joining us. Please help us as much as you can, any and every contribution is valuable, and again, thank you.
Finally, let us wish you a Happy New Year! And may this year be even more successful than the last!
We value your support. If you share our concerns about the work needed to promote the outcome which is in the best interests of the UK, please consider making a donation by clicking on the Gold Card image.
Our aim is to help people see what’s going on, understand what they are, or aren’t, being told, and decide what is the best outcome for the UK: an outcome in the national interest, protecting fundamental citizenship rights and ensuring Parliament and not the executive is sovereign.
To help protect our fundamental rights, and support Parliament in safeguarding them, please send us a donation so we can maintain our campaign and make your voice heard.
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Published by Grahame Pigney on behalf of The People’s Challenge Ltd.